Handmade Wardrobe · sewing · Tips, Tricks, Techniques · Tutorials

Super-Simple Straight Summer Skirt Tutorial

When it comes to cool, comfy, quick and trendy, the Super-Simple Straight Summer Skirt has it all. It’s an easy “draft”, easy sew make that might become a staple for you. Perfect for a newbie sewist, it would make a great first project! And, if you’re already a sewist, this will seriously only take about 1/2 hour. I made mine maxi-length, but mid-calf, above knee or shorter would work just the same. You may already have your own version, but if not – here’s my tutorial!

BONUS: I’m introducing a fabulous, new thread that you will LOVE for knits and swimwear in this post!!

Day 25 front

Let’s start with your measurements and determining how much fabric you’ll need!

  • First the width:
  1. Measure the fullest part of your hips. No cheating! This measurement is for your viewing only and the important part here is that your skirt looks and feels fabulous.
  2. Add 4″ to 6″ to this measurement depending on how roomy you would like your skirt to be.
  3. Add 1″ to the total of 1 and 2 for 1/4″ side seam allowances. OR, if you would like to make just one seam at the back of your skirt as I did, add just 1/2″ to your total.
  4. For a one seam skirt with 6″ of ease at the hip, your calculations should look like this: Hip Measurement + 6″ + 1/2″ = Width you will cut for your skirt.
  • Then the length:
  1. Measure the length you would like your finished skirt to be – from your waist to where you would like the hem to end. You may want to enlist the help of a friend, do this in front of a mirror or measure a skirt you already wear.
  2. Add 2-1/2″ to this measurement for the fold over waist elastic.
  3. Add 1-1/2″ to the total of 1 and 2 for the skirt hem.
  4. Your calculations for the length should look like this: Finished Length + 2-1/2″ + 1-1/2″ = Length you will cut for your skirt.

These two measurements (width and length) can be used to make a paper pattern or, as I did, you can just use a ruler to mark and cut your fabric to the correct width and length. You’ll find more on cutting out your skirt below.

How Much Fabric Do I Buy?

  • If your total width measurement is less than 45″, then you can purchase fabric that is at least 45″ wide and the length you have determined you will cut.
  • If your total width measurement is between 45″ and 60″, look for 60″ wide fabric to purchase in the length you have determined.
  • If your total width measurement is more than 60″, you will want to purchase double the length you have determined.
  • And, a word from the wise here . . . buy a few inches of extra length just in case your fabric shrinks! For most fabrics an additional 1/8 yard is enough.
Knit Fabric
I bought this gorgeous knit from Pacific Fabrics in Seattle. They have more and put it on the web site just for us! Click here. 
 

What Kind of Fabric Should I Buy?

This tutorial is for a light to medium-weight knit skirt. Start with that, then you can adapt the pattern in the future for other fabrics if you like. Look for a poly/rayon blend, cotton/poly, cotton/rayon, brushed poly, or cotton knit that you LOVE. If there’s a little bit of spandex in the mix, that’s great for comfort. If your knit fabric is 100% cotton, you may want to purchase a little more. Cotton can shrink up to 3″ per yard. For this skirt percentage of stretch is not a factor – so don’t worry about that, just make sure there is some amount of stretch across the width of the fabric.

Should I Pre-Wash My Fabric?

Absolutely! When you bring your fabric home, wash and dry it in the same way that your finished skirt will be laundered when it’s done. This takes care of shrinkage before you make the skirt. So much better than finding that your adorable skirt has shrunk and is too short or too tight after it’s been sewn!Eloflex thread label

Other Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Let’s start with thread. You’ll need good quality, name brand matching thread  for your serger and Coats and Clark Eloflex stretch thread for your sewing machine.
    • Wait a minute. . . Elo what??? Elo fabulous, that’s what!!
      • This is a very new Coats and Clark thread that stretches and springs back into shape like magic. I’ve sewn knits and swimwear for years and Eloflex is the most revolutionary thing I’ve ever seen. I had the privilege of pre-testing Eloflex last year and I was immediately sold. No, this is not a typical “elastic” thread. No, this will not make you and your machine crazy. Yes, you can use it in the bobbin, too. Yes, you WILL love it! You’ll see more about this on the blog soon and find it at national fabric chain stores soon, too. Make a note on your shopping list: ELOFLEX!
  • Okay, I’ll calm down a little now so we can talk needles. Size 70 or 75 Ballpoint or Stretch Schmetz Needles (Because I want you to have the best and cheap needles just aren’t worth our valuable fabric and creative time.)
  • 1-1/4″ non-roll, cotton and rubber, elastic. (The length of your waist measurement. See my measuring info below.)

Elastic

Measuring Your Waist For Elastic

So, let’s be right out there honest . . . some of us haven’t seen our waist for years. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t measure for comfortably fitting elastic! Here’s how:

  1. Bend to the side and note where your body folds. That’s your waist. Say hello!
  2. Note where your waist is so that you can measure it. A little dot of Sharpie placed at your waist while you’re bending may help.
  3. Using a flexible, sewing tape measure, measure around your waist. Don’t make this tight. Again, no one is going to see this measurement and it’s important to the comfort of your skirt.
  4. Use your waist measurement to purchase the length of 1-1/4″ elastic you will need. If you think you’ll be making more Skirts, go ahead and buy enough elastic for several. It’s great to have on hand. We’ll talk about cutting it to size in a minute.

Okay, so now you’re home with your thread, elastic and fabric and you’ve pre-washed your fabric. Let’s cut!

Cutting the skirt

Cutting Your Skirt Fabric

Cut the length and width you’ve determined for your skirt. Knits should always be cut with the stretch going around the body of the garment. In the case of our skirt, that means you’ll cut your pieces with the length of your skirt parallel to the selvedge of your fabric.

  • Tip: I cut everything with a rotary cutter and ruler on a cutting mat. This is especially valuable for knits or any fabric that likes to wiggle around while you’re cutting it. A rotary cutter does not push the fabric like scissors do.

Cutting Your Waist Elastic

Place the elastic around your waist. (If you’ve lost it again, see above and look for that Sharpie dot.) Pull the elastic around your waist and tighten it until it’s comfortable. Mark that length and cut your elastic. Then follow the directions in my A New Trick For Waistband Elastic post to join the ends. Set your elastic circle aside and we’ll sew it on in a few minutes. If you tend to lose things, put it around your neck for now. (Ask me how I learned that hint!)

Serging Edges

Sewing Your Skirt Back Seam or Side Seams 

This is part of the super simple. These are just straight seams. Pin at the top and bottom and as often as you need to in between and sew or serge with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Nice and easy, right?

  • I like to serge around the waist and hem edges of my skirts, too. Not because they’ll ravel (they won’t), just because I like having that firmer edge to work with at the waist and hem. If you’re using a sewing machine, no problem. The edges won’t ravel, so just leave them unfinished.

Marking the Skirt Waist and Elastic

This is easy, too! But, if you haven’t done it before, follow me closely. It’s a great technique that you’ll use again. It starts with dividing your skirt waist into fourths . . .

  1. Fold the top of your skirt waist in half, so that it is folded along the center front and center back. Mark each of these folds with a pin inserted vertically.
  2. Re-fold the skirt waist so that the two pins are matching and you now have a fold along each side. Mark each of these folds with a pin inserted vertically.
  3. You should now have four pins evenly distributed along the top edge of your skirt waist.
  4. Set your skirt aside carefully and repeat this process, as follows, with the waist elastic circle you created above.
  5. Fold your waist elastic along the center front and center back, mark with pins as above, then re-fold, matching pins and mark the new folds with pins.

Divide in fourths

Sewing the Elastic to the Skirt Waist

  1. Match the pin in the center back of your skirt waist with the pin in the center back of your waist elastic, pin together with just one pin and repeat this continuing around the waist.
  2. Set your sewing machine on a wide, long zigzag. I used a 5mm width and a 4mm length on my Bernina.
  3. Take a deep breath. You are now going to sew along the top edge of the elastic attaching it to the top edge of the skirt by stretching the elastic between pins until it lays flat along the skirt edge. If you feel like you need a shorter distance to stretch, re-mark your skirt waist and elastic in eighths rather than the fourths that we just did.Stretching elastic to fit edge
  4. As you sew, the right side of the skirt fabric will be on the bottom and the elastic will be on top of the wrong side of the fabric.  Be sure that you only stretch the elastic until it lays flat on the skirt fabric. Any farther than that will create odd stretching that you don’t want on your skirt.Zigzagging elastic
  5. Sew from pin to pin as you stretch. Remove each pin as you come to it, then repeat until you are back to where you began. Backstitch to secure and take another breath.
  6. To finish the top of your skirt, fold the elastic towards the inside of the skirt. Pin it in fourths or eighths again making sure that the fabric is folded snugly, but not stretched, over the top edge of the elastic.Sewing second elastic stitching
  7. This time we’ll be sewing with a long straight stitch. About 4mm on my machine. You’ll want to sew from the inside of your skirt so you can see the first edge you sewed. Stitch about 1/8″ from the zigzagged fabric/elastic edge you sewed previously.
  8. Repeat the process of stretching as you sew until the folded over elastic lays flat on the fabric. Back stitch to secure. Breathe!

Skirt close up

Sewing Your Skirt Hem 

Try your skirt on before hemming, then turn up and pin a 1-1/2″ hem. If you find that your skirt is too long, trim the bottom edge evenly, then try it on again. If it’s too short, use a narrower hem. Your hem will be stitched with a long straight stitch (always best for knits on a sewing machine), about 4mm. This is where the magic of the Eloflex thread comes in. Your hem will still have stretch!

Skirt on me

The Important Last Step – Wear Your Skirt Often!

  1. Photograph you wearing your skirt and post it on Facebook and/or Instagram and tag Sewful Life – #sewfullife. (I’d love that!)
  2. Practice your response to everyone who admires your gorgeous new skirt. Something like “Thank you! I made this and I’m pleased with it, too!” or
    “Yes, I’ve become my own personal couturier.” All said with a warm smile, of course.
  3. And, REPEAT. And ENJOY!

Annette signature

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Super-Simple Straight Summer Skirt Tutorial

  1. I need some of that thread. I wish I had known about it before I made my 8 or more pairs of leggings. I got some knit fabric for leggings. I had a little over a yard to start with. When I washed it , it shrunk so much that all I could make were crop pants. It is SO important to prewash fabrics.

    Like

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